This is part 1 of a two-part article on hastening the work of salvation. This article explains what is involved in hastening the work and part 2 describes ways that you can hasten the work by using online tools and social media.
For many people, the phrase “hastening the work of salvation” brings to mind missionary work. While missionary work is certainly an important part, it is not all of it. Hastening the work is a revitalized emphasis on the Lord’s work of salvation which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
According to chapter 5 of the Church’s Handbook 2, the “work of salvation includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel.”
Indeed, the Lord is hastening His work. We can all sense it. The work is hastening, enlarging, and all encompassing.
Here is a quick summary of some of the increased efforts in each of the five areas of the work of salvation:
Member Missionary Work
In June 2013, President Thomas S. Monson said, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him.”
No longer do members simply pray for missionaries to find people to teach. Members lead out in finding, inviting, and fellowshipping. Members are the full-time finders and missionaries are the full-time teachers.
In October 2012, the Church lowered minimum ages of full-time missionaries to 18 years for young men and 19 for young women. Within 12 months, the missionary force exploded by more than 22,000 missionaries. There are now over 80,000 full-time missionaries in the field, including many more senior and sister missionaries. Sister training leaders are an integral part of the newly created mission leadership councils. 58 new missions were created in 2013, for a total of 405. Missionary training centers are bursting at the seams and the Church opened a new MTC in Mexico.
Missionaries are beginning to use technology to reach people in different ways than in the past. They now use tablets and mobile phones equipped with digital planners and digital area books. The Gospel Library mobile app provides electronic versions of pamphlets, videos, and images for teaching.
Missionaries also use new technologies to find and teach people, such as Facebook, blogs, texting, emailing, and Skype. Some people find the Church through Mormon.org and LDS.org and then connect with missionaries online or in person. You have likely seen the hashtag #HastenTheWork on social media.
At the new mission presidents’ seminar in June 2013, Elder L. Tom Perry said, “I can see the future unfold before us to where we will have greater opportunity to teach the gospel with the new methods, with new opportunities that we have never had.” He summarized his feelings of hastening the work of salvation this way: “This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in the past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build that foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom.”
Because of the lowered age for missionary service and the focus on hastening the work, seminary students are now more engaged in gospel study and missionary preparation. Better-prepared missionaries are being more successful.
The Church now provides more support for returning missionaries. The Perpetual Education Fund has increased its focus beyond educational loans to help returned missionaries learn to be more self-reliant so they can provide for themselves and their families both spiritually and temporally.
No longer do missionaries baptize converts and simply pass them off to the wards and branches. They participate in extended retention efforts by working with ward leaders to ensure that new members progress beyond baptism and confirmation to receive all the ordinances of salvation. For a recent convert, the next ordinance may be an Aaronic Priesthood ordination or temple baptisms for deceased ancestors. Missionaries are also encouraged to stay in close contact with new members for at least a year or longer.
Ward councils are encouraged to ensure that each new member has a friend and a responsibility and is “nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4), as recommended by President Gordon B. Hinckley years ago.
Activation of Less-active Members
There is a renewed focus on deepening conversion and helping less-active members progress. For a prospective elder, the next ordinance may be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. For a less-active member or part-member household, it might be a temple endowment or temple sealing. For others, the next ordinance may be returning after a lengthy absence to partake of the sacrament or attend the temple.
Family History and Temple Work
Family history work and missionary work are really one work with two parts. Both are missionary work when you think of rescuing people on both sides of the veil.
Family history is not your grandma’s genealogy any more. With Family Tree (familysearch.org/tree), you can collaborate online with relatives to tie all family lines together into a single pedigree of humankind. You can upload stories and photos of your ancestors. Indexing has replaced extraction. Missionaries now participate in family history work.
The youth are also getting more involved in finding ancestors and then in performing the ordinances for their ancestors. The youth attend the temple in great numbers to perform baptisms for the dead, and many take their own names. Sometimes, youth even become ward family history consultants. The spirit of Elijah is awakening in the youth.
Because young women and young men are entering the mission field at a younger age, they are also receiving the temple endowment at a younger age. These young people are arriving at the temple well prepared to make covenants.
Teaching the Gospel
The Church is also engaged in a major effort to enhance both teaching and learning.
Teaching. In 2013, a new curriculum was implemented for youth classes in Sunday School, Young Men, and Young Women. The Come, Follow Me method is all about teaching in the Savior’s way. The focus is on teaching people and not lessons. The result is that youth are much more participative and engaged in their own learning. Similar enhancements will be made to curriculum for adults and children.
Learning. The Church is focusing on providing more resources for learning rather than just resources for teaching. Examples include the basic doctrinal principles in the new curriculum, the online scripture study aids, and the Gospel Topics section of LDS.org (topics.lds.org).
The desired result is that individuals and families take more initiative for their own learning, with Sunday instruction taking a supplemental role.
“We are shaping the future of what the Church will be, of what people will be, of what families will be,” said Elder Allan F. Packer. “The new MTC is the home. The new family history library is the home. The new Sunday School class is the home.”
To get ideas about easy things you can do online, see the book 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online.
Read part 2 to learn about ways that you can hasten the work by using online tools and social media.